In 2009 entrepreneur Geoff Matthews and a consortium of mates purchased a struggling fish farm near Twizel and renamed it Mount Cook Alpine Salmon (MCAS). They knew MCAS was ten years behind the game, so just to catch up wasn't good enough. It had to leapfrog the industry and play by its own rules.
The difficulty, however, was overcoming 20 years of market and industry-driven negative misconceptions about fresh water farmed salmon. But the unsustainability of the seafood industry in its present form offered an opportunity because the MCAS farm in the Southern Alps was among the most eco-sustainable on the planet.
The team backed its product and marketing capabilities and, over the past year, has changed the world of salmon by entering a traditionally commodity-led industry with a brand-led product, transformed the previously negative features of the product into value-adding benefits and found the holy grail of export by creating a new ultra-premium category in the highly competitive American market, selling all its available stock at the highest price for farmed salmon in the world, and securing forward orders for everything the company can produce.
Not only that, MCAS has moved from loss to profit, the two major distributors have invested in the company and it's raised enough capital to fund an extension that will give it 14 times more consented capacity.
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WINNER: Mt. Cook Alpine Salmon Limited
THE PEOPLE: Geoff Matthews
THE PARTNERS: BrandCom
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